Twilight Samurai (2002)

Dir. Yoji Yamada

For some reason Chris comes to mind first for people who I think would like this. Grace, Penny, Mitchell and Kevin would come next. Tony and John might have a shot at liking this, and I’m going to go out on a limb a bit and recommend this to Marc. Jill might have a shot of liking this, but I’m not sure. I think Joel and Don just thought this was OK. I enjoyed this film.

A lower level samurai loses his wife and gets in debt to pay for her funeral. He struggles to raise his two daughters and farm his small plot of land. His life becomes more complicated when a female childhood friend returns to his village after a bad marriage. He’s a samurai who actually prefers a simple life to that of a warrior, but he gets drawn into several fights that he can’t get out of.

That last line makes the film sound a bit like Shane, and in some ways it is, except the audience really doesn’t know how good a swordsman he is. If anything, he seems like a mediocre one—otherwise why would he be content with his lower status? with being a farmer and raising his daughters? In this way, the Yamada modifies the conventions of the genre. In keeping with that, the point of the film is not to glamorize fighting or even ambition, but to praise the simple life. Yamada spoke about how the film comments on lower level businessmen and their upwardly mobile ambitions. This film seems to suggest another path, and I liked that. There are two other films that follow this, forming a loose trilogy, and I look forward to watching those.

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